“It’s just going to take time.”
I kept repeating the phrase to my sister as I explained the day’s painful events. “I know this season of life is for good, but it’s so hard.”
I’ve officially decided to stop saying “I never thought life would be like this.” I’m slowly learning it rarely ever looks how our idealized glaze would have it.
There’s this beautifully frustrating analogy of life being a mountain to climb. You’re walking along, and you see a tree. A giant pine. You look up at its thick branches, you compare your smallness to the thick trunk. You keep walking, climbing.
Maybe a day goes by or even years. You’re higher up now, and you think you can grab the clouds. Then you look to your left and there off the path is a tree. You recognize it, but now you’re looking even with the branches rather than straight up at them. Perspective. Around and around you go on the mountain, crossing paths with this tree every once in a while, but always at different heights.
Life lessons tend to be this way. I think I’ve wrestled something through to its root, claim victory and move on. I climb my mountain, and then I stumble upon it again: the same struggle but to a different degree. Each time I walk away stronger, albeit exhausted. Climbing and wrestling call for every little bit of you.
I remember first hearing this analogy while bundled (though basking) in Georgia’s winter sun. I remember swallowing hard, not at all liking what I was hearing. I remember thinking–and probably verbalizing–that I just wished life could be a checklist and there’d be an arrival somewhere on this mountain.
Arriving is a stinking lie. And it’s just going to take time.
It’s going to take time to work through what seems like the hundredth battle against the past.
It’s going to take time to fondly call a place home when for too long home meant packed bags and an itinerary of goodbyes.
It’s going to take time to invest in new souls, and clean out old wounds.
Life wasn’t built in a day.
God took six of them to create the world.
Probably the most freeing and equally irritating advice I’ve been given is to “have grace for yourself.” You too? If only it were that easy, right?
If all you know is to be hard on yourself (and often we don’t even see it until an outside party points it out), throwing grace into the equation seems impossible. It means uprooting rocky soil and deleting years of thought patterns. Grace can be bestowed so easily, like a snap of the fingers, but it also takes time.
Believe me, I wish it didn’t. I wish we could walk through our days snapping every five minutes, adding a little Mary Poppins magic to our lives’ mayhem.
But it’s just going to take time. And yes, have grace on yourself while the clock ticks and tocks.
Breathe. Always breathe. Don’t let the tennis match of anxiety vs. your heart consume you.
Count. List out your gratitudes. The rain on the airplane window, the extra hour of sleep yesterday morning, your sister’s empathy. There’s so much to be thankful for (anxiety fails to recognize that).
Throw the theory of arrival in the trash and set fire to it. You can get creative if you wish.
* * *
We’re all climbing mountains and running into familiar pines. And we need each other. We need each other to remind us that we’re not back at the beginning of the path or starting over at square one.
We need each other to look us straight in the face and say, “hang in there” while also rooting for us all the way. We need each other to keep believing that while it will take time (so much more time than we ever imagined), the mountain climb will not defeat us. We will not be consumed, not even when painstaking darkness hides the path. Not even in loss or getting lost.
It’s going to take time. It’s going to hurt, and your heart will develop blisters.
But keep walking anyway. I need you to, just like you need me. We can inspect our pines together; I’ll show you where I carved my name in the trunk. And we’ll both be better for it.